The CENIEH and the Fundación “la Caixa” collaborate on the Ratón Pérez Collection Project

Wednesday 14 September 2022

This morning, the agreement between the Fundación “la Caixa”, through CaixaBank, and the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) to develop the Ratón Pérez Collection (RP Collection) project was presented: its objective is to expand and manage this collection of milk teeth for paleoanthropological and forensic research.

The Fundación “la Caixa” was represented by Natalia Díez Simancas, Social Action manager for CaixaBank in Castilla y León, while the CENIEH was represented by its director, María Martinón-Torres, and the scientific coordinator of the project, Marina Martínez de Pinillos González.

This project, which is supported by the Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT) – Ministerio de Ciencia en Innovación, includes the tooth collection campaigns, management of the RP collection, and making it available to the scientific community, and the launch of the Ratón Pérez Collection website.

This website is the great novelty of the project. It will be a meeting point both for the collaborating institutions and donors, with a space provided for contributing to the RP Collection. The website also makes it possible to break through geographical barriers so that institutions and people from all corners of the world can take part.

In addition, as Martínez de Pinillos explains, “researchers interested in the Collection can request access using the form on the website”.

For her part, Díez says “it is the concept of citizen science evoked by this project that has bound the Fundación “la Caixa” so strongly to this initiative for the last eight years. To us, it conveys the importance of collaboration between society and science”. “The protagonists are the very youngest, the ones who offer up their teeth for important research, and they get a first-hand approximation to the world of science that is not usually so accessible”, adds the Social Action manager for CaixaBank in Castilla y León.

Ninth campaign
Thanks to citizen collaboration, the RP Collection now holds over 3600 dental pieces from boys and girls aged between 2 and 15 at the moment of loss, who are mostly from Spain, although there are also some from other countries like Australia, China, France, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, and Russia.

In Burgos, the ninth Tooth Collection Campaign will take place at the facilities of the CENIEH, from September 26th through 30th, as part of European Researchers' Night, as well as during Science Week, which is held in November in Castilla y León.
All those interested in donating teeth should make an appointment and collect the participation form and information from CENIEH reception, between 9 am and 8 pm. In exchange for their dental pieces, donors will receive a souvenir and a certificate of having assisted "Ratón Pérez" and the CENIEH Dental Anthropology Group, in addition to merchandise from the Casita Museo del Ratón Pérez, in Madrid.

During the press conference, the project coordinators, Martínez de Pinillos González, who is a researcher at the Dental Anthropology Group, and Chitina Moreno-Torres R-C, the head of the CENIEH Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i), emphasized that it is very important to state the exact age (years and months) of the donor when the tooth fell out.